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The term Osiris-Dionysus is used by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy[1] to refer to a group of deities worshipped around the Mediterranean in the centuries prior to the emergence of Christianity. Freke and Gandy argue that these deities were closely related and shared many characteristics, most notably being male, partly human, born of virgins, life-death-rebirth deities and other similar characteristics such as having twelve disciples.[2]

Ancient syncretism[edit]

The Egyptian god Osiris and the Greek god Dionysus had been equated as long ago as the 5th century BC by the historian Herodotus (see interpretatio graeca). By Late Antiquity, some Gnostic and Neoplatonist thinkers had expanded this syncretic equation to include Aion, Adonis, Attis, Mithras and other gods of the mystery religions. The composite term Osiris-Dionysus is found around the start of the first century BC, for example in Aegyptiaca by Hecateus of Abdera, and in works by Leon of Pella.[citation needed]

Modern era[edit]

In the 19th century, the idea of a pan-Mediterranean cult of the dying-and-rising demigod was used by Alexander Hislop in his anti-Roman Catholic treatise The Two Babylons. Hislop argued that Roman Catholicism was based not upon Biblical Christianity, but upon pagan cults of the divine mother goddess and her suffering son (e.g. Cybele and Attis, etc.).

Later authors, such as Peter Gandy and Timothy Freke, have expanded this line of reasoning to encompass not merely Roman Catholicism, but Christianity more generally. Their book, The Jesus Mysteries, contends that Jesus was not an historical figure, but rather a mythic product of the same pan-Mediterranean mythic complex that also yielded Osiris, Dionysus and other similar figures.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ see, e.g., The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, ISBN 0-722-53677-1
  2. ^ Freke and Gandy, Jesus Mysteries, p. 5.